Two years have already passed since the August 1 Kaohsiung Gas Explosion. Following the disaster, Sunshine Foundation established the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center which has provided intensive rehabilitation services to 51 people injured during the explosion. Through their efforts over the last two years, 24 burn survivors are now ready to “graduate” and return to work. On July 30, the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center organized a special graduation ceremony to recognize the accomplishment of these burn survivors who have overcome so much in order to return to their normal life.
Watch the video to learn what graduation from the Rehabilitation Center means for some of these burn survivors.
For Tai-Yun, learning how to cope with emotional stress is important
One of the burn survivors graduating is Tai-Yun. As a firefighter, he and his team were among the firsts to arrive on the scene after calls were made about a potential gas leak. When explosions began, Tai-Yun was injured. Although he sustained burns on only 12% of his body, which is a rather small area compared to other victims, the injuries were located on parts of his face and his hands. Scars on his face and loss of function of his hands requiring painful rehabilitation caused Tai-Yun great physical and emotional distress. He said: “The psychological trauma from this event was too great.” Over the last two years, apart from actively following a physical rehabilitation plan, Tai-Yun has also received psychological counseling at the Rehabilitation Center. This counseling has helped him deal with the emotional stress bottled up inside, and he has been able to rebuild his confidence. Tai-Yun returned to work on August 1 and although he has officially graduated from Sunshine’s Rehabilitation Center, he has promised to come back as a volunteer. He particularly mentioned: “I now look different and I’ve had first-hand experience of people staring at me. I wholly support Face Equality1 and in the future, I want to actively participate in Sunshine’s work to promote Face Equality in Taiwan so that burn survivors and people with facial disfigurement benefit from a friendly social environment.”
For Hong-Ming, scars are no obstacle to his love of sports
Hong-Ming is another burn survivor graduating from the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center. He sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 55% of his body. Hong-Ming loves sports, so it was very difficult for him to accept the fact that his injury made it impossible to move normally or use his hands. Because Hong-Ming didn’t want to burden his parents with his daily care, he immediately joined the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center after hospital discharge to begin his physical rehabilitation program. His social worker says: “Apart from going to the hospital for his regular check-up, the rest of the time Hong-Ming would always arrive on time for his rehabilitation session at the Center.” After two years of hard work, Hong-Ming has progressively regained normal use of his hands and he is now ready to go back to work, as well as return to playing the sports he loves so much. But more importantly, he is getting ready to marry his girlfriend. When the accident happened, they had only known each other for one month, and with so many uncertainties about his future, Hong-Ming wasn’t sure if their relationship would stand the test of time. However, his girlfriend has stood by his side throughout and they will tie the knot at the end of September.
The Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center provides physical rehabilitation, pressure garment services, psychological counseling, independent living training as well as work hardening services to burn survivors. Currently, there are still 22 burn survivors injured during the August 1 Kaohsiung Gas Explosion that are undergoing rehabilitation at the Center.